Blurred boundaries between marketing and communication

We’ve all seen social media posts, marketing emails or commercials go awry – and if you’re like me, your first thought is, “How many approvals has this had to get through and why has no one reported this?”

  • Chances are it was because the marketing and communications teams weren’t in sync.

Why is this important: The lines between communication and marketing have always been blurred, but the rise of social media, branded content and corporate activism has further complicated an already strained relationship.

State of play: Communicators now drive strategic messaging and storytelling, while marketing has focused on growth and reach.

  • Because of this, marketing teams are realigning under the umbrella of communications.
  • Research by Edelman found that 43% of communications teams are now centralized under the CEO – a pivot away from reporting to marketing, human resources or legal functions.

What they say : “I speak to more and more CEOs every day who recognize that one of the most critical skill sets they need alongside them are communicators – and I include marketers in that,” says JC Lapierre, director of strategy and communications at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

  • Lapierre, who reports directly to the CEO, says PwC has benefited from combining marketing and communications because his team “owns all the channels, so you can’t release anything that’s not aligned with the strategic agenda.”
  • IBM recently took a similar approach, placing marketing under communications director Jonathan Adashek.
  • According to Adashek – who holds the dual titles of CCO and SVP, marketing and communications – this reorganization allows the two teams to deliberately work together in a more streamlined way.

Yes, but: Why is marketing part of communication and not the other way around?

  • Boathouse Group CEO John Connors said it had to do with marketers’ history of pushing expensive, shiny things instead of long-term strategic planning.
  • According to Connors, “The agency’s presentations were booked at lunchtime, so we were treated like creative buffoons. … Over time, I think too many people in marketing have given up on the high strategic level.
  • This aligns with Boathouse’s 2022 Performance Study, which found that less than half of CEOs trust their CMOs and only 25% believe their CMOs have strong decision-making skills.

  • According to a Deloitte study, only 5% of CMOs consider themselves to be high performers in contributing to the general direction of the business, gaining support from the C-suite and influencing strategic decisions.

Between the lines: The strategy piece is where communicators come in.

  • By aligning with communications, marketers are better equipped to protect and promote the company’s brand,” and CEOs recognize that if they can use storytellers as strategic assets, they can help shape a strategy that is faster to execute and that will accelerate the return on investment,” says Lapierre. .
  • Together, the two departments can create messaging campaigns that reach large audiences, Connors explains. “It’s not just about reaching consumers anymore. There must be multiple issue narratives that companies can use to differentiate themselves among employees, consumers, legislators, and the media.

The bottom line: Communicators and marketers are magnetic forces that can attract or repel.

  • Communicators must therefore lead by crafting clear messages that align with business strategy, and marketers must use these stories to engage the widest audience. Together they can have a direct impact on growth.

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